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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Lion head fiddle


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donatello - Posted - 06/22/2011:  15:34:27


Hello, I'm a beginning fiddle player and I was wondering if anyone could tell me about the lion head violins? I think they are very cool looking but are they good? I see them on eBay and they are unlabeled and prices vary a lot, I know there is a risk buying a violin you can't see or hear. Some have red tounges I have noticed, is there any significance to this? They all look to be very old. I would like to get one but I'm not sure?? Is there any important things to look for? Thank you

woodwiz - Posted - 06/22/2011:  16:27:55



quote:


Originally posted by donatello



Hello, I'm a beginning fiddle player and I was wondering if anyone could tell me about the lion head violins? I think they are very cool looking but are they good? I see them on eBay and they are unlabeled and prices vary a lot, I know there is a risk buying a violin you can't see or hear. Some have red tounges I have noticed, is there any significance to this? They all look to be very old. I would like to get one but I'm not sure?? Is there any important things to look for? Thank you





Some are good, some are not good at all, and you can't really tell by looking. They are popular among some fiddlers.  I had a friend who had been a regular on Louisiana Hayride who played a lion-head that sounded very good.



Whether they still have their tongues is just a matter of how well they were cared for.  The quality of the carving on the head can be an indicator of overall quality, but not of sound.



Try before you buy.


Mountainbanjo - Posted - 06/22/2011:  16:33:03



Friend of mine has one that was handed down. Its nothing too special in the sound department, but the lion is cool. I dont think it was ever one of the higher quality ones.


donatello - Posted - 06/22/2011:  17:04:24


I sure think they look good but I'm so new to fiddling that I really don't know the difference in good violin sound and not so good. I'm not sure I make any of them sound too good..ha, I'm trying!! Thanks for the replies. I guess if I had a lion head staring at me I would play better, lol

kygarv7 - Posted - 06/23/2011:  11:19:13



I've had a few and they were all really bad quality, super thick top and low quality fittings. I think it was mainly a gimmick to make sales. They were massed produced in the late 1800's and some will have patriotic decals on the back. People will pay 3-500 dollars for these on ebay, but they are not really worth it except being antique. I use to be fascinated by fancy looking fiddles, but now I just go by sound. Gotta try 'em first that's for sure!


fiddlepogo - Posted - 06/23/2011:  13:02:15



For a MERE $2,000, Gliga (a maker of Romanian violins) has them <brand new>!!!



violinslover.com/OutfitIn.php?...s_id=4338



violinslover.com/OutfitIn.php?...s_id=5983



They call them Tyrolean Lion's Head Scrolls.  The Tyrol is a region that overlaps the Austrian/Italian border.


ronwalker49 - Posted - 06/23/2011:  16:36:28



I have one from around 1850.. I have owned it for about 30 years or so...





barretone - Posted - 06/23/2011:  19:13:44



I got one with a well carved lion -- but only partially carved top and with carved bass bar. It has the fancy rope binding too. Clearly a lot more work went into the outside... And it sounded about as you'd expect -- cheap. Fun to look at tho.



Randy



Edited by - barretone on 06/23/2011 19:14:13

donatello - Posted - 06/28/2011:  14:18:35


Thanks everyone for the replies, hopefully one will come up for sale locally so I can check it out

carlb - Posted - 06/29/2011:  07:26:34



quote:


Originally posted by donatello



Hello, I'm a beginning fiddle player and I was wondering if anyone could tell me about the lion head violins? I think they are very cool looking but are they good? I see them on eBay and they are unlabeled and prices vary a lot, I know there is a risk buying a violin you can't see or hear. Some have red tounges I have noticed, is there any significance to this? They all look to be very old. I would like to get one but I'm not sure?? Is there any important things to look for? Thank you





 I have one I'd sell but I'm not local to you.




Lion's Head 2

   

dbhone - Posted - 06/29/2011:  07:32:50



That's a nicely carved lion head, Carl.  So many have a mane that looks like it was stamped in a machine(and maybe was machine carved!).



My experience is that most LHs are for looks, not sound, but that the better carved ones can sound very good.



Dan


donatello - Posted - 06/29/2011:  17:12:10


That is an awesome fiddle, how does it sound? Are there things that you can do to them to make them sound better, like changing strings or set ups?


Edited by - donatello on 06/29/2011 17:18:07

DougD - Posted - 06/29/2011:  18:20:52



Well, in most cases you could put the neck on another body and come out OK. Most are beyond string and setup changes. Mainly just a gimmick , like badly inlaid pearl designs in the back- don't fall for it.



Ron - yours looks much nicer than most. Not strung up though - do you know how it sounds?



Carl's looks nice too.



Edited by - DougD on 06/29/2011 18:24:52

carlb - Posted - 06/30/2011:  06:12:18



quote:


Originally posted by donatello



That is an awesome fiddle, how does it sound? Are there things that you can do to them to make them sound better, like changing strings or set ups?





 Well, it's pretty clean. It had a saddle crack, so the top was removed and it was repaired properly. In addition, I had my fiddle doctor take a bit off the edge of the saddle and use a little filler, so there would not be any more saddle crack problems in the future. The bass bar was carved into the top and was removed and replaced with a new fitted bass bar. The pegs are at an old angle (slope is 1 to 25 as compared to the modern ones that are 1 to 30), but are really nice. I relined the peg holes with banjo skin and it brought them back out a bit and they work well. The skin could be replaced at some time in the future so one would never have to have the pegs replaced. Of course, obviously, I prefer the sound of my other lion's head (check my pictures) and the Maggini copy to this one, otherwise I wouldn't want to part with it. There is a sound recording in my music files (Pat Him on the Back) that compares my three fiddles and I did a request on how people thought they sounded <fiddlehangout.com/topic/15027>. I have recently changed the strings to Helicores from Infeld Blues, but I wouldn't say that the sound changed appreciably. I haven't yet experimented by making a new sound post so that I could have it more towards the bass side.



The thing to watch out for on quite a few of the lion head fiddles (like the one whose sound I like better), is that they often have no neck blocks. The neck block is simply the end of the neck going into the body. This comparison was explained by me, with pictures on another topic <fiddlehangout.com/topic/20883 >. Fiddles without neck blocks have completely intact tops; a small trapezoidal shaped area has to be cut out of the top to insert a neck into the neck block.




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